Friday 19 July 2019

Ireland makes headlines around the world with landmark 'Yes' result in marriage referendum

Same-sex marriage across the globe Credit: Freedom to Marry
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Simon McGough (right) and his fiance Kevin Carberry after they voted in the marriage equality referendum in Cabra, Dublin.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Sr Loreto Ryan from the Sisters of Charity at a polling station in Drumcondra.
Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnuala at a polling station in Co Mayo yesterday. Photo: Keith Heneghen
John Downing

John Downing

Ireland has made headlines on major media organisations around the world - both print and digital - as a result of the historic 'Yes' vote in the same-sex marriage referendum

Not since we banned smoking in pubs, back in March 2004, or approved divorce by a tiny margin of just 9,000 votes, way back in November 1995, has the Irish nation excited such international media curiosity.

The eyes of the world's media are all upon Ireland as counting begins today on the same-sex marriage referendum.

Ireland may become the 20th world nation to legalise gay marriage - but it is the first country in the world to hold a popular vote on the issue. Add a strong global stereotypical view of Ireland as "a religious and strongly Catholic country" and you have a rattling good story worth the travelling expenses.

Radio France International did not spare the intrigue. "The vote comes 22 years after homosexuality was decriminalised, in a country where Catholic Church influence, even if declining, remains strong," their reporter, Sébastien Duval, said.

The reporter for 'The New York Times' was no less intrigued: "The country overall remains socially conservative, and some still see homosexuality as a sin - or something to mock. Yet Prime Minister Enda Kenny, a churchgoer, supports the amendments."

The German international broadcast service, Deutsche Welle, hit all those themes and added that opinion poll predictions of a big Yes must be treated with caution. Their report honed in on the potential "silent No-vote". "There's been strong groupthink among the media and the political elite.

"I know of politicians in all parties who'll be voting No but they're certainly not prepared to say it," Deutsche Welle quoted Senator Jim Walsh, who quit Fianna Fáil over the issue, as saying.

The Arabic language television news network Al Jazeera was not to be outdone in the drama stakes. "Marriage equality vote generates the biggest human rights debate in Ireland's history," read the lead headline on its English language web pages.

"Opinion polls suggest a landslide victory for the Yes vote, with prominent supporters including government representatives, the Irish Gaelic Football Association, the police force and leading figures in sport, media and entertainment."

Media from broadcasters such as CNN and NBC will be in Dublin Castle for the count alongside journalists from all over Europe and even Japan.

Reporting the count live, a CNN news team have been sending out a steady stream of tweets and updates about the marriage equality referendum.

“With the once-mighty Catholic Church’s influence ravaged by scandals over child abuse, opinion polls indicated the [same-sex marriage] proposal could pass by as much as 2-to-1,” it reports.

Meanwhile Channel 4 news has been covering the count since it first began at 9 am.

"The first hour suggests there has been a high voter turnout in all regions, particularly in urban areas, with a huge youth vote and returning emigrants heavily influencing the outcome," it writes, again focusing on the returning Irish youth that has been a common trend amongst the international coverage.

"Deardriu Lally flew from Germany last night to vote Yes. She brought her three children - Luke, 9, Tim,5, and Fia, 4 - to Dublin Castle today," writes The Guardian, who is running a live blog throughout the day.

“This is the most important day in their lives! I don’t even know where we’re staying tonight but it’s Eurovision night and Dublin will be having a party!”

Also dedicating column inches to the marriage equality referendum is the Financial Times, which credits the Celtic Tiger years for opening up the Irish to more liberal ideas.

"Irish society and the Irish economy have arguably modernised more quickly in the past 20 years than in the previous 80 years of the Republic’s existence," it writes.

Quoting prominent No campaigner Keith Mills, it adds: "The speed of the transition has made some uncomfortable... We are on a headlong rush to embrace a modern concept that we don’t really understand.”

As polls closed last night, more than 72,000 #HomeToVote mentions were posted across Twitter.

Irish Independent

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